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German vs Soviet Ergonomics

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This is an issue that comes up many times. According to a popular theory, Soviet tanks achieved their compact size by being unusably cramped for their crew, whereas the larger German tanks were, in comparison, palaces where the crewmen could easily perform their tasks. This theory is, like many, not backed by any particular evidence. However, I came across a very convenient image, generously shared by Yuri Pasholok.

VK 45.03(H) draft, dated December 12th, 1942

Long time readers of my blog may recall another, similar image from an ergonomics textbook.

Fig. 12. A driver in cramped conditions.

Since both images have measurements on them, it's quite easy to bring them to the same scale and align the two images by the drivers' hips to compare their levels of comfort.

Turns out that the Soviet driver ends up with more headroom and more leg room! The German designers allocated less room to their driver than what their Soviet counterparts would have considered cramped. Interestingly enough, the seats are almost exactly the same size. 

Of course, one may argue that the VK45.03 was not a production tank and merely a design proposal, but one needs to look no further than the British report titled Motion Studies of German Tanks that thoroughly covers the ergonomics disasters that the Tiger, Tiger II, and Panther were.

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