M4 Shermans and T-34s saw service in many armies and many conflicts long after World War II. Their use after the Korean War and the export wave of Pattons/T-54s/Centurions has been interesting to me. It represents something that I’d call, for lack of a better word, the Minimum Viable Tank. Which is to say that against any other tank or any substantial anti-tank weapon, they’re hopelessly outclassed.
Yet they still can and still could do “tank things”. They have armor, they can move fast, and they can make things go boom. Thus the weird wargamer in me wants to go “just what can these minimum viable tanks accomplish?” And in many real cases, the answer has been “a lot”.
What adds to their appeal is that they were not found in the superpower armies directly. The US quickly ditched its remaining Shermans after Korea, and T-34s did not endure that long even in the lowest-category units once a glut of hand-me-down postwar tanks became available. But they were shipped abroad, and they did fight, meaning their presence likely indicates an obscure area.
One thought on “The Minimum Viable Tank”
If you are the only one to show up on the battlefield with tanks of any kind, that generally gives you a nice advantage.
The last time I saw a T-34 “in action” was in the Albanian Civil War of 1997, when everyone lost their money in a huge Ponzi scheme and violence and robbery swept across the country. Many armouries were looted and I recall some TV footage of a T-34/85 driving down the street as an Army unit tried to restore order in a city somewhere.