How effective would a tank ram be?

Here’s another Quora post I answered! In this case, I was asked to by another Quora user. Enjoy this interesting tidbit of history :)

Answer by Agares Tretiak:

Thank you for asking me to answer!

Ramming a tank with another tank has been used at least once in warfare, in order to cripple the enemy vehicle.
It occurred during the Operation Goodwood, when the 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion (Schwere Panzer Abteilung) engaged with various British forces, including the Irish Guards, near the town of Cagny.
During the course of the battle, Lt. John Gorman, the commander of a Sherman M4 (named Ballyragget), came across a Tiger II with its turret pointed away from him.
According to his account of things, he and his driver had discussed prior to the battle what they would do if they encountered one, and they had both agreed the only hope they might have was to outmaneuver and then ram the vehicle in order to either cripple it or give them a chance to fire at point blank into a vital component of the massive Tiger II.
A picture of the Ballyragget rammed into the side of the Tiger II. Note the Prototype Tiger II turret of the vehicle (sometimes mistakenly called the Porsche Turret).

Given nearly this very scenario, Lt. Gorman had the driver ram the Tiger II in the side and fired an HE round into the side of the turret. The ramming supposedly unseated the track and damaged the suspension, crippling the tank, and the HE shell and physical impact of being rammed caused the German crew to abandon their vehicle.  Lt. Gorman and his crew also bailed out and Lt. Gorman began to look for a Firefly he could use to ensure that the Tiger II was completely taken out of commission
post-66801-0-93914400-1398503219An alternate angle of the same incident (afterwards).
John Gorman wrote a book of his account of the war as well as this incident and later went on to become a well-known Irish politician after the war.

Generally, ramming tanks is likely to be a last-ditch maneuver, as the outcome can and very likely will go poorly for the individual who tries it. However, it can also, if carried out successfully, be wildly successful, as it will almost certainly damage or cripple the enemy tank, especially the suspension or tracks. What happens after you ram the enemy is anyone’s guess, as the chances are your vehicle also sustained damage and might be crippled. Given that the crew awareness levels and turret rotation speeds of a well-trained tank crew in a modern tank are going to be much better than during WW2 or other eras, it really is not advisable to attempt.

How effective would a tank ram be?


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