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Old 10-22-2020, 08:06 AM   #1
Tessen
 
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Default Major advantage of a half track?

Is it a tank? no! , is it a truck? no!. So what's the major advantage or edge that a half track brings to a battle in WW2?
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Old 10-22-2020, 11:35 AM   #2
adm
 
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Default Re: Major advantage of a half track?

Generally, cheaper than a tank, although not by much, more off road capable than a truck. The US model was likely the cheapest effective one, they just replaced the two rear axles with tracks on a truck, and bolted some armor on. The German ones were more capable off road, but more tank like and expensive, at least by the late war period.
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Old 10-22-2020, 11:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: Major advantage of a half track?

Easier for someone who already knows how to drive a truck, performs better in mud and ice. Some replace wheels with skis.
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Old 10-22-2020, 11:39 AM   #4
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Major advantage of a half track?

More armored than a truck as well as better off-road mobility. That helps when it comes to small arms, shell and grenade fragments, and machine guns. Armor's not always about stopping main tank guns cold. Halftracks generally mounted weapons, as well. Not that you can't do that with a truck, but it wasn't generally standard issue as opposed to a field expedient.
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Old 10-22-2020, 11:42 AM   #5
Tessen
 
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Default Re: Major advantage of a half track?

So they were effectively used in an urban combat role?
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Old 10-22-2020, 11:54 AM   #6
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Default Re: Major advantage of a half track?

Another advantage is that they can be driven by anyone who can drive a regular truck, you don't need special training like tracked vehicle drivers do.
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Old 10-22-2020, 12:00 PM   #7
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Default Re: Major advantage of a half track?

Quote:
Originally Posted by adm View Post
Generally, cheaper than a tank, although not by much, more off road capable than a truck. The US model was likely the cheapest effective one, they just replaced the two rear axles with tracks on a truck, and bolted some armor on. The German ones were more capable off road, but more tank like and expensive, at least by the late war period.
Not all half tracks were armoured - the French and Germans in particular had a wide range of soft skins, whereas I don't think the US did. The Germans had a vehicle known as the maultier (mule) which was literally a truck with the back wheels removed and replaced with a set of tracks from a scrapped tank (generally a PZ1 or PZ2).

But yes, the half-track had most of the cross country capability of a tracked vehicle without the expense and complexity of steering a tracked vehicle.
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Old 10-22-2020, 12:18 PM   #8
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Default Re: Major advantage of a half track?

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Originally Posted by The Colonel View Post
But yes, the half-track had most of the cross country capability of a tracked vehicle without the expense and complexity of steering a tracked vehicle.
Though the concept has largely died out, so it presumably also has some unique drawbacks (I am not sure off-hand what those things are).
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Old 10-22-2020, 12:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: Major advantage of a half track?

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Originally Posted by Tessen View Post
So they were effectively used in an urban combat role?
Urban combat? Where are you getting that?

The main frontline halftrack role was a lightly-armored, open-topped cross-country personnel carrier. That's not something that is well-suited to urban combat - the open top means top attacks and grenade attacks are more dangerous, and generally infantry in urban combat want to be dismounted and moving on foot rather than loaded into a big boxy target.

If your opposition lacked any sort of anti-armor standoff weaponry then any vehicle that's armored against small arms fire can provide a helpful mobile base of fire, and that would have applied to some urban combat in WWII. Most halftracks would only have machineguns, which are somewhat less than ideal for smashing up buildings that enemy troops are dug into, though there were some with small cannons and possibly even flamethrowers that would be more helpful.
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Though the concept has largely died out, so it presumably also has some unique drawbacks (I am not sure off-hand what those things are).
Reducing expense and complexity tends to be less of a priority for everyone since the end of WWII.
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Old 10-22-2020, 12:55 PM   #10
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Major advantage of a half track?

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Though the concept has largely died out, so it presumably also has some unique drawbacks (I am not sure off-hand what those things are).
That's probably maintenance on the tracks and their general vulnerability. That's the usual reason given why the latest light ground combat vehicles tend to be built on the "Big wheels and lots of'em!" plan.
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