Soviet Tanks and American Tanks


J. Walter Christie

There are some lessons to learn from this story.

  1. The Korean (south)army was equipped with semi-automatic M-1 rifles with 8 rounds, while North Korean troops used hand-cocked Mosin-Nagant rifles with five rounds. Thus, the South had superior rifles, but rifles are quite irrelevant against tanks. To the South, tanks were beyond their scope and imagination.

  2. Koreans were the not the first ones to make this kind of mistake. When Japanese army attempted to invade Mongolia in 1939, they thought their new rifles with diameter 7.7 mm (known as 99 siki) were much superior to their old rifles with 6.5 mm (known as 38 siki). But those war makers did not know that Soviets has tanks which were early versions of T-34. The Japanese army got completely destroyed, and their generals were ordered to commit Harakiri (cutting their own abdomens).

    Koreans (south) did not have enough military professionalism to learn lessons from this incident.

  3. Let us come back to Walter Christie who invented the Soviet T-34 tank. American military literature and mass media all tell he had a bad personality and was not able to get along with anyone (perhaps like me). This is the reason why Americans did not use his technology. I do not think it is a correct logic. One's personality cannot be the reason for rejecting his technology. It is more likely the fault of out-dated army bureaucracy.

    In July of 1950, the first group of Americans came to Korea to stop those North Korean T-34 tanks. Americans fired their anti-tank guns and hit those tanks, but nothing happened. To make things worse, the NK tanks did not have enough courtesy of greeting Americans by firing back.

  4. To make things much worse, those T-34 tanks destroyed the 24th Division of the U.S. Army in the Daejon battle in July of 1950, and its Division commander was captured by North Koreans. The NK army, inaugurated in February of 1948, was only two years old at that time. This was perhaps the worst humiliation the U.S. Army suffered in its history. It was indeed tragic that one American elite division was destroyed by the military machine invented by an American engineer. Sometimes, bureaucracy could be a country's worst enemy, even for the United States.
It is not difficult to see that this article was written by a person who thoroughly hates bureaucracy, with some personal experience of his own. As a consequence, the article contains an exaggeration, which was pointed out by the following e-mail.


copyright@2008 by Y. S. Kim, unless otherwise specified.

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