Fahrer im Turm


There was a German-American project for a joint main battle tank development in between the Leopard and Leopard 2 development. It was too technologically ambitious, too expensive and the two countries could not agree on a common approach or even type of main gun. The project failed by about 1970 already (the Soviets were much more successful with their technologically daring tank project, which became the T-64).


The turret is so huge for a serious reason: The driver was in the turret. This solves some problems (especially how he gets out through the hatch real quick in case of fire and main gun just above the hatch) and added huge problems.

I suppose that modern technology with all-round cameras has largely overcome those added problems, albeit maybe not for  all kinds of battlefield vehicles.

A self-propelled gun (SPG) is a category of vehicles that does not require much line of sight combat capability, especially not on the move. So I suppose a tracked (nowadays continuous composite bandtracks) SPG could make use of a driver in the turret. SPGs have the gun in a certain travel position (usually straight forward) during almost all movement anyway.

The further crew could be two men for loading (one for shells, the other for propellant modules). Manual loading with just some power ramming is fairly cheap (unless you insist on active duty personnel all year round), very reliable, low maintenance, very adaptable and there's more personnel for maintaining and securing the vehicle than with a more or less extreme autoloader concept. The driver would be busy driving while on the move, but could be the commander while in firing position. One of the loaders could watch the flatscreens and make decisions for crew on the move. A fourth person would increase volume and weight for allow for a conventional (permanent) commander function and would also add much (but likely not important) combat capability on the move.

Drive-by-wire was extremely ambitious during the 1940's to 1960's, but today it's nothing special any more. A driver in the turret could steer the vehicle easily with drive-by-wire.

What's the benefit of having a driver in the turret? You get rid of some ergonomics issues (see the driver escape hatch problem of Boxer SPG) and the vehicle can be a lot (almost 1.5 m) shorter. The vehicle would be reduced to frame, suspension, wheels, bandtracks, a front engine compartment and a big turret. A shorter vehicle is a lighter vehicle, but it would also be less comfortable on rough ground (more pitching movement).






A simplified view on WW2 Eastern Front


There are occasionally distorting publications that overemphasize certain things or pieces of equipment in conventional warfare, and WW2 in particular. I will try to guide the reader's thoughts about such subjects to certain essentials.

From the German perspective, this is what was a must-have (beyond mere sustainment and trivial things) to defeat the Soviet forces in WW2:

#1: Capture many POWs

The primary tool for this were highly mobile (enough suitable vehicles and fuel) "fast divisions" (not just tank divisions) that enabled encirclements with not too porous pocket walls.

#2: Kill or maim many Red Army soldiers

The tool for this was ~80% indirect fires; howitzers and mortars. The quantity of available HE munitions was more important than qty of guns. The conflict saw much more KIA than POW in 1942-1945, as the Germans had lost the combination of factors that enabled grand encirclements.

#3: Reduce Red Army operational mobility and reduce its supply throughput

The tool for this was (night) bombing or railway infrastructures and especially "railheads" (where supplies were unloaded). The venerable He 111H of 1940 was fine for this even as late as 1945 on the Eastern Front.

#4: Stall Red Army attacks

Post-WW2 literature recounted that more losses were inflicted on Red Army assault troops by shelling marshalling locations prior to the assault than during the assault. About half of the defeated Red Army attacks were stalled before the small arms fields of fire of the German infantry. So this is in part about #2, but also very much about military intelligence.

#5: Break tank attacks

The most important tools for this were by far two basic types of long 7.5 cm cannons; one anti-tank gun (L/46 barrel) and one for AFVs (L/48), which foolishly used different cartridge formats. They proved to be effective enough even in 1945.

Such armaments could have been available in the mid 30's (two such guns existed then) already.

#6: Keep friendly losses bearable

A steel flak vest would have helped greatly, as would have a widespread availability of APCs for infantry assaults and general transportation on the last mile. Most important was proper infantry training, though. 6 month training binds many NCOs, but it leads to much lower casualty rates than 6 weeks training.

 #7: Good quality leadership that doesn't waste personnel and material with gross violations of operating principles (Einsatzgrundsätze).

This included to some degree good communications including radio tech.


This may all seem terribly obvious, but it wasn't obvious enough. Different compromises were made, and that led to military disaster.

You can deduct the importance of things during that campaign from these 7 (8 with sustainment) pillars. I suppose that they are still relevant.



Accidents in warfare


There will be a couple severe malfunctions of guided munitions that stray a long distance from their intended target if you launch thousands of them.

The cruise missile that hit Poland while being aimed at Ukraine was an exhibit of this fact.

Likewise, there will be a couple severe malfunctions if you launch thousands of unguided rockets that were mafe under shoddy circumstances.

It is thus not surprising if and when some munition hits a taboo location in Gaza - a school, hospital or a hotel packed with international reporters.

It's in that conflict very unlinely that either party would do such a thing intentionally in Gaza, but it is a risk that both parties accept.

The only really interesting part of a story about a hospital, school or hotel hit by a munition is this risk acceptance in my opinion. You can blame a party for accepting risk, but it's foolish to blame it for bad luck.



Transitory drone tech implications


The current use of remotely-piloted vehicles (usually with video feed from drone to user) is likely but a step en route to more or less (likely most of the time) autonomous drones on a battlefield.

To simplify, I see it like this:

1st step: manned aviation*

2nd step: remotely-controlled aviation with high bandwidth feedback

3rd step: remotely-controlled aviation with low bandwidth feedback

4th step: partially autonomous unmanned aviation with occasional communication only (mission updates and reports)

The 1st step can be done without radios.The 2nd step requires a low bandwidth radio uplink for control and a high bandwidth radio downlink, typically for a videostream. The 3rd generation will process the video data such that a much smaller bandwidth downlink is good enough. The 4th generation will make do with less than a kilobyte of data transfer per day if it communicates by radio at all.

The bandwidth is the bottleneck. You cannot have a high density battle with thousands of drones operating in a 5x5 km area and transmitting a 720p colour video feed simultaneously. 

You may have that drone density with the 3rd step, and at the 4th step you could concentrate drones more than any practical necessity. In fact, having very many drones in an area may be beneficial then because drones could relay messages and thus reduce the required power of the onboard radio.

The limitation caused by drones largely using certain frequency bands further reduces how many drones can be concentrated. The classic RC channels have already been augmented by 5.8 GHz and drone onboard radios may be built for many different frequency bands (though antenna size and frequency band are linked), but that takes time, and we may just as well progress to step #3 instead. Many other frequencies are in use for other purposes or physically unsuitable anyway.

The drawn-out and long frontline nature of the Russo-Ukrainian War offers step #2 drones great opportunities to shine, though jamming equipment will be rolled out to counter RC aircraft. The question is whether we'll see a high density conflict that requires step #3 drones before either jamming becomes too effective or effective step #4 drones arrive in quantity and assume tactical roles other than pre-planned missions.


*: Especially notable examples were the late First World War ground attack aircraft and the Second World War flying forward observers.


Gaza '23 and more in general: Our politicians are worthless


This episode of counterviolence breeds counterviolence is part of an ongoing conflict that's older than my mom. It's kind of not really interesting, just noise of tragedy.


I see only one hot fix that would work for Israel, and that's sweeping Gaza with hundreds of thousands of troops to weaken Hamas before handing it over to Fatah (their political opponents who control the non-occupied parts of West Bank). Fatah regaining power in Gaza like that would lead to its long-term demise, though.

The pursuit of a two-state solution has failed to deliver on its promise and is an obsolete approach in my opinion. Obsolete or not, a failing poly should be replaced by a more promising one.

Suppose there are two children on the schoolyard taunting and brawling every school day, and have done so for years. I understnad it's fashionable to sit down to talk to them, mediate, talk, tlak, talk.

A more classical (and in my opinion more promising) approach is to not give a s*!t about their opinions and simply enforce the rule that everyone on the schoolyard has to be peaceful, or else will be sanctioned so much that he/she/it regrets to not have been peaceful.

It's time to stop talking to Arabs and Israelis, and to stop hosting talks between them. It's about time they learn to OBEY. They need to obey international law, or be made to regret it. There's almost no prospect that the cycle of counterviolence will end for good just because the involved parties suddenly get nice.

Sadly, the U.S. with its veto power in the UNSC is the main (possibly only) obstacle to this.

The UN(SC) should MANDATE that Egypt takes over Gaza and meets its responsibility to ensure there won't be any attacks on israel from Egyptian (including Gaza) soil. Extremely severe and ten-year sanctions against these countries should commence in 12 months if the UNSC hasn't confirmed their satisfactory compliance until then. Egypt would later be held responsible for every aggression from its soil, just as any country should be held responsible for such a thing.

Ideally, the same should be done regarding Jordan (West Bank) and Syria (Golan Heights), with Blue Helmet (MP, MI and CivMil, not combat troops) support.

Israeli military security concerns about having Egyptian military nearer to Tel Aviv and Syrian military on great vantage points on Golan Hieghts carry ZERO weight, just as Russian desires to have vassal states between itself and NATO carries zero weight.

There's hardly any Syrian conventional warfare military left, hardly any Jordanian military and the Egyptian military will freeze when the U.S. stops subsidising it. Meanwhile, everybody knows that Israel is a nuclear power with a quite robust 2nd strike capability and all of itself is within range of precision-guided missiles nowadays (which devalues depth). So security concerns about reestablishing the 1949 borders are not very substantial anyway.

Maybe if Germany hadn't such a useless, timid, worthless chancellor we could be part of the solution. A charismatic, fluent English-speaking and decisive German chancellor could pressure POTUS Biden through public diplomacy and behind closed doors diplomacy to not veto a 1949 borders restablishment UNSC resolution that mandates Egypt to take over Gaza and establish security. The time for this is perfect. There are many ways how POTUS could be pressures behind the scenes. Germany could threaten to kick out all American troops without giving them time to set up a replacement for Ramstein, it could threaten to leave NATO*, threaten to sabotage U.S. foreign policy in many ways.

That would require a non-fossilised, action-oriented chancellor, though. You can't have any good results with a worthless potatoe. I respect the office of the chancellor, I do not respect the person AT ALL. he should rot in jail for defalcation in the CumEx scandal.

The politicians we have can only think in old narratives and thier only actions are about spending money.

Their inaction thorugh three generations of crisis in the Levante KILL people, just as their inaction in the Mediterranean migration crisis KILLs people.




*: Germany is not threatened itself, is also in the EU alliance and there's no such thing as accumulated obligation to stay in an alliance. We can leave the North Atlantic Treaty at will, within a year (see its article 13).