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Battlefield Mobility
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Episode 2 explores mobility on the battlefield, and the never-ending challenge to maximize effectiveness and find the right balance of protective armor, speed, mobility and firepower. The nimble Egyptian chariots led the way as an effective firing platform. The stirrup and selective breeding turned the horse into a true weapon of war and set the stage for the mounted knight as a self-contained mobile battle-system. And then came the tanks, which evolved from the first British efforts in World War I with boxy Little Willie and hulking Big Willie, to the fast German Panzers and powerful Russian T-34s of World War II, to today’s heavily armed and armored machines like the American Abrams, which comes complete with massive gun, sloping, explosive reactive armor, thermal sights and even stealth coatings.

  • Robert Bott

    I’ve been enjoying this documentary, but you seem to have omitted one important topic: propulsion. I’m not an expert on the military, but I am a student of energy and transportation, so have done a bit of research on this. A big advantage of the Soviet T-34 in the Second World War was its V-12 diesel engine. The diesel could operate on a variety of fuel, from heating oil to gasoline, whereas the Panzers depended on scarce gasoline supplies. Diesel fuel is much less flammable; in a fire, diesel tank crews could often escape the vehicle, whereas gasoline tankers were fried. Diesel generally got better mileage (depending on weight, speed etc.)
    Aside from the Soviets, most of the protagonists started the war with gasoline tanks, but by the end the superiority of diesel was becoming clear. When Israelis purchased Centurion tanks from Britain, they converted them from gasoline to diesel.

  • James H. Reynolds

    In the mid-1960s tank production was slowed down by Armor’s requrement that welds be radiographed and any voids or inclusions ground out and rewelded – neither quick or cheap. I was detailed by the Ordnance Office to meet with the committee responsible and try to have the requirement removed. I explained that a hit on a flaw that was a kill when it othewise would not have been was like my dawing nothing but royal flushes. Their response was that this might save the life of an American boy. My answer that our ability to build more tanks would save a lot more lives was was ignored. James H. Reynolds, Col., USA-Ret.

  • Joe W

    Note to PBS, Please make more episodes! or make two other series Air War and War at Sea, Love the ground war series.

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