Why are german Tanks/Armor so popular?

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Sascha Hornbach
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Why are german Tanks/Armor so popular?

Post by Sascha Hornbach »

Hi all,

today I have a question to all of you. I think about it (from german view) a long time. Why are german Vehicles or armor from WW2 so popular? Is it the fascination of complex technology? Or the fascinating "breeze of evil"? The shape maybe? I mean, there are a lot of Tanks or Guns and so on, from other Nations, the Russians had build a lot of tanks an guns, also the british and americans (and much more). But in wich forum you look worldwide, mostly german Tanks and Artillery from WW2, what is the most fascinating thing for you as not a german? Please do not understand my question wrong, in no case I will break into a political discussion, my interest is to understand the reason only.

best regards

Sascha
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Sam Hough
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Re: Why are german Tanks/Armor so popular?

Post by Sam Hough »

Hi,

Is it a perception of best in the era even if it is a narrow definition of best? Might explain the popularity of Tiger 1, King Tiger... Also fits with the Spitfire being so popular as a model. Pragmatism of T-34s and Shermans less exciting?

I do feel a bit awkward about my Tiger 1 with my German mother-in-law and a Jewish friend...

It is probably largely because my Dad built (smaller scale) Tiger 1, T-34 etc when I was small although he is now very happy with his new quad kit.

Cheers

Sam

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Marco Peter
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Re: Why are german Tanks/Armor so popular?

Post by Marco Peter »

Russian or American tanks feel generic, mass-produced. British tanks are odd. French, don't get me started. Italian? Let's not go that low... :mrgreen:

So: German!

Over the top, over-engineered, more often than not ahead of their time, so real cutting edge-technology, heavy, stylish, hard-hitting beasts that sound great! 8) What's not to like!
'Konan', my Tiger 1 Mid
'Gunther', my Panther G

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Re: Why are german Tanks/Armor so popular?

Post by Stephen White »

Interesting question for a rainy winter's day. Here's my cynical money's worth.

1. Familiarity - it's easier to follow popular trends, particularly if you don't want to get involved in tedious research. World of Tanks has a lot to answer for. The sorts of social media where these things are discussed tend to be populated with opinionated people who lack the technical and operational experience to be discerning and build up a popular mythology which is self perpetuating. Add a couple of social media "influencers" and you've got a following.

2. Lack of understanding - it's easier to compare leading particulars and come to a judgement about tanks (or any other equipment). So bigger, faster, better protected tend to be the discriminators. People also tend to compare specifications of individual vehicle, failing to realise the much wider set of considerations which apply in the real world. The Tiger is the classic example of a tank which in a "Top Trumps" world is a winner, yet in reality, some of the less glamorous characteristics were much more relevant, such as reliability, operational mobility, ease of production, complexity etc.

Good tank design is all about compromise and balance: firepower, mobility (operational and tactical), protection, reliability, availability. The best balanced tank of WW2 was undoubtedly the Comet. Yet the Tiger, with good firepower and protection, wins in the popularity stakes every time. No-one cares that it was desperately unreliable, unlikely to be at the right place when needed and very thirsty and hard to support. In many ways, the Pz IV was the most effective of the German panzers, yet that's unlikely to be a popular view.

3. Group Think. Easy to explain that one, people tend to buy what's popular.

4. Politics - this one is hard to quantify but there is a visceral appeal associated with some causes. Balancing that is the xenophobic tendency. People tend to favour some nations projects. The British, unfairly, tend to decry British tanks of WW2, yet in some cases (Comet, Centurion), they were world beaters. In the case of the US Sherman derivatives, the tank wasn't especially capable but vitally, there were a lot of them at the right time. Yet the Panzers, which were largely unbalanced designs and not available in the numbers needed, are undoubtedly more popular.

5. Reputation. German tanks were certainly regarded as superior by many Allied soldiers and that's a view which has endured. Yet, if you look at the campaign from Normandy to the Baltic, the Tigers and King Tigers were bested by the Allied combined arms effort and later in the campaign, the Comet got the better of the Tiger and Panther. On the Eastern front, the T-34 did the same. The reputation of the panzers took a knock as the war went on yet it has been restored in later years.

6. Admiring technical complexity. In the real world of tanks, complexity of design and operation are bad things. They make tanks hard and costly to produce, so you get fewer of them, they increase the potential for unreliability, which means the tank isn't available when it's needed, they increase the difficulty of operating and supporting them, which means crews struggle to operate them to their full potential. So simple, reliable and easy to support are essential to any successful bit of military equipment but that isn't likely to cut it with a twenty something world of tanks fan.

But hey, if World of Tanks makes more people enjoy making tank models and seeing them at shows, who's complaining? Those of us who've lived with tanks professionally can keep our rather less popular views to ourselves and to others who take the trouble to understand the bigger picture. So would I have wanted to go to war in a Tiger - no. Nor a Leo 1 in the Cold War, for different reasons. Would I go to war in a Leo 2 - yes, as long as it is given a boiling vessel for the tea.

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Re: Why are german Tanks/Armor so popular?

Post by simon_manning »

A country of such engineering Talent and invention turned to producing warfare, Thats the interest, how could it happen, the rest is history as they say, regards simon.

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Re: Why are german Tanks/Armor so popular?

Post by Ed Groenenberg »

I think it's for some reason a typical human thing.

If you look to all models made being it War, SciFi or otherwise, the 'evil' side always have the most appealing stuff.
Look to Star Wars, the most good looking models are of the Empire & Co., in Star Trek, it's the Klingons, Cardassians or other enemies.
If it's Battlestar Galactica, it's the Cylons, etc...
From a pure technical point, the engineering was very good, sometimes too well made. Besides a lot of Flak 18/36/38 guns
were used after WW2 by other countries for several years afterwards.
You only live once.

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Adrian Harris
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Re: Why are german Tanks/Armor so popular?

Post by Adrian Harris »

This is a quick run down of the history of Airfix 1/76 models during the Sixties and Seventies, up to the point where they started repeating models. The Allied ones are coloured green.

Airfix.jpg
Airfix.jpg (166.14 KiB) Viewed 355 times

Obviously, I don't know the sales figures but at no point does there seem to be a huge swing towards German models, so it doesn't look like they were massively outselling the Allied ones at this point.

Personally, the Sherman and the T-34 would be top of my TM "Top Five Tanks" video, for no other reason than I like the shape of them. Similarly, and I know Stephen can point out all the technical deficits it has, but the Leopard 1 also looks right to me. Leopard 2 looks horrible :roll:

Having said that, there is something about the aesthetics of WW2 German tanks, where they seem to have to right proportions, plus, as a modeller, there are all the different colour schemes for the various theatres.

If you do Allied tanks then, to paraphrase the Rolling Stones: "Paint It Green", and you're done :lol: :lol:

Adrian.
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Re: Why are german Tanks/Armor so popular?

Post by Stephen White »

Fascinating Airfix list, Adrian, how many of us are now going through it to see if we missed any in our youth?

As for "paint it green", after doing my Afrika Panzer III in camouflage, I found that doing the Cent in green was a much harder challenge. The weathering took a lot longer. So for entertainment value, the green had its moments.

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Re: Why are german Tanks/Armor so popular?

Post by Chang »

Well, I think the simple reason is "Generally everybody else think so."
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Es braust unser Panzer im Sturmwind dahin.....

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